Mostly Gadgets Complicate Life But Every Now And Then They Actually Simplify It

My 50s were quite turbulent, now that I think about it. Divorcing, misplacing a job, starting this blog, taking another job, remarrying, leaving a job. Children graduating college and finding their ways into the world of grownups. My mother moving to memory care and all those emergencies.

So I am perhaps more focused on streamlining, on finding calm, than many people my age. Or maybe it’s universal in our 60s? I don’t know?

Anyway, white roses and butterflies are pretty good for transcendent joy but for Zen give me a nifty appliance any day. I never expected to become a late night commercial but here we are.

First, my Instant Pot. For all the hype, Mr. Pot is just an electric pressure cooker. Why do I love him so?

A pressure cooker locks and you cannot open it. Enforced cooking zen. No, you can’t raise the heat just a little. No, you can’t stir one more time. No, you can’t add a just pinch of salt. At least not until it’s finished. After years of intentional multi-step cooking I find the process quite peaceful.

Here’s a recipe for vegan split pea soup, modified from this one on Fat Free Vegan.

Ingredients To Serve Two With Leftovers

  • 1 onion, chopped, smallish
  • 2 carrots, diced smallish
  • 2 celery ribs, diced smallish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp some sort of seasoning blend, I used “Chicken” but “Italian” will do
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • a little white wine
  • a little vegetable broth (optional)
  • 1 cup of dried split peas
  • 4-5 cups water
  • 1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke flavoring
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What To Do

  • Turn on Instant Pot Saute function
  • Dry sauté the onions stirring a lot until they get soft
  • Add the celery, stir for a minute
  • Add the carrots, stir for a minute
  • Add the spices, stir once or twice
  • Deglaze the vegetables with a little white wine, scraping up brown bits
  • Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable broth if you happen to have it
  • Taste, maybe add some salt if you feel like it, or a little more spice
  • Turn off the Instant Pot
  • Add the split peas
  • Add water, stir
  • Close and lock the Instant Pot, press Manual/High, set for 8 minutes
  • Natural pressure release, then use an immersion blender to blend a little bit on the side
  • Add salt and pepper and Liquid Smoke before serving

Eat with french baguette. If someone in your house is an unreformed carnivore, add chunks of ham before serving.

Second, my steam mop. I have told you before that I hate house cleaning. Nothing has changed. But certain aspects I hate more than others – mopping floors, for example. So. Much. Water. First there’s the splashing and the squeezing of the water application device – a mop, I suppose – then there is the Too Much Water On The Floor And It Never Dries aftermath.

With the steam cleaner the water can’t splash, since it’s in a reservoir on the chassis, no squeezing required, because, steam, and it leaves very little moisture behind, so, floors are quick to dry. Thank you Rachel.

Righty-ho. The first rose has bloomed. Off to fill the part of my mind emptied by Zen Pea Soup with Soaring Joy For The Year’s First White Rose. Life in the time of time to oneself is all about thoughtful tradeoffs.



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  • OMG – I’ve been so wanting one of those but my husband is anti-appliance. I don’t even have a crock pot. And your 50s were incredibly turbulent, now that I look at it all spelled out. Wow. You did not go slow in middle age. I sense I may be on a similar trajectory. I hope I can manage with as much grace as you.

    7:41 pm
    Lisa said...

    @K-Line, I did not go slow. Good luck with the speed, but, do avoid the divorce if you can;). I used to use a crockpot but this is infinitely better.

  • Hi Lisa, I am all for gadgets. We use rice cookers for so many things here–truly the universal appliance. I am going to look into the steam mop for my mother. Is it very light to use? My only concern is that she might not think it worth storing another appliance considering her small kitchen floor area.

    7:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Parnassus, The steam mop isn’t light as a feather but it is not heavy. I don’t think “Oh no I have to carry that around.” I hang it on a hook in my laundry room – if your mom has a mop and bucket, this takes the place of the mop for sure. And we had to get another rice cooker too – the Instant Pot rice just didn’t taste quite right. So we found a cooker that has a stainless steel liner.

  • Two excellent household items! I had a steam mop pre-renovation and it was so amazing on the tiled floors. It sanitizes everything! What could be better? Your 50’s were very very busy indeed. Here’s to quieter times, contemplation and lots of those beautiful roses. xx

    7:44 pm
    Lisa said...

    @DaniBP, Thank you. Quieter times indeed. <3

  • Your rose is exquisite. It has a peach tinge, at least in the photograph, that I love. Thank you for sharing it, it’s family of buds, its nest of dark green leaves. It looks like a happy rose bush.

  • Imagine above I wrote, “its family of buds.” Auto-correct got me there.:)

    7:45 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Katherine C. James, Damn you auto-correct! And the rose does have a peach tinge when it opens, and such dark green leaves. I have been very gratified with how well it has settled in, since it’s a David Austin I planted myself from a bare root plant and I really had no idea what I was doing:).

  • I think with the turbulence in the world at large that we might all be trying to find peace and simplicity in our lives. Hence the popularity of minimalism. All hail Marie Kondo for showing the way.

    This version of the recipe will be easier to follow than the twitter one. Thank you.

    I have a steam mop and love it. Dragging my heels on the instant pot though.

    7:49 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MaryAnne, Ah you are probably right. And once I began to write it I remembered I’d deglazed the pot, so, thanks for asking!

  • That is a gorgeous rose. I lived in Seattle for 22 years, and tried and failed to grow pretty roses. Fungus, thrip and mildew are a gift of the climate there. We’re still waffling about the instapot. Glad to read you’re liking it and using it.

    7:55 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Allison Mohr, Yes, am liking and using a lot. Doesn’t make rice we like, but, beans, soups, stews, braised chicken pieces, etc.

  • Love this post! and that’s truly amazing. I could eat soup & salad and bread every day… Have you cooked regular beans in it? Curious…and I cover the steam mop thingy…

    7:56 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jb, I’ve cooked red beans in it, and I don’t even soak the beans! Also chili. It makes great chili.

  • First off thank you for that rose image…swooning here! Ours are months away…
    I recently purchased a steam mop too…great for cleaning the floors for the grandchildren’s visits!
    Never heard of that new pressure cooker but if you like it I am sure that it is a gem indeed…as one who is not overly into gadgets and raves about one I think we can trust your opinion!

    7:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, I look forward to the arrival of all your beautiful David Austins. And so nice you steam your floors for the grandchildren! And after their visits too, I bet?

  • Lisa, I think I need both of these appliances. First, soup in 8 minutes sounds like a miracle and I would eat it all the time. Secondly, I have travertine floors and I think the mop might be awesome.

    I love that you had busy years in your 50s. You have only begun. I just had lunch with ladies in their late 60s and one just ran her first marathon at 68 and all are going to nationals for senior tennis in a few weeks. I’m starting to understand if we keep challenging ourselves, we keep staying young, at least I hope it’s true.

    I still can’t believe you’re in your 60s, you look about 20 years younger. x Kim

    7:59 pm
    Lisa said...

    @kim, You are so nice! I do look my age, if you look closely, but I’m OK with that and I so appreciate the compliment. The steam mop would be great for travertine floors, I think, unless there is something about them I don’t know. And, to be precise, the pressure cooker is set for 8 active minutes but it takes about 10 minutes to start cooking and another 10-15 minutes to release the pressure, so more like 30 minutes from the time you close the lid to when you eat.

  • That steam mop sounds great! I went over to Rachel’s site and learned that it is good for wood floors, so I’m all in. I, too, am ashamed to admit how long my wood floors go before they get a wet mopping. I’m lucky to get around to vacuuming and dry mopping with the Swiffer. Also, love your roses. Wish our weather here in Virginia were more agreeable for roses. Our summers are so hot and humid.

    8:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, I use it on my hardwood floors. And, because I do it not as often as I should, I spray the floor with a little glass cleaner and then mop that up – make it shine nicely.

    California does seem to grow good roses if you are willing to dedicate enough water to them. I am glad to share mine.:)

  • Adding: You’re braver than I. My garden in Palo Alto had twenty-four rose bushes I chose to start from bare root. Most were David Austin, with a few Peace and Double Delight Tea Roses added. I enlisted the help of a lovely organic gardener in planting, learning to correctly prune, and generally pamper and adore my roses, which as cut roses were a true pleasure of my years in that home. Your rose bush looks amazingly healthy. I think it must love the place it’s planted. x.

    6:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Katherine C. James, I would have loved, loved, loved to have seen your roses.

  • Both these appliances made me excited. I’ve been needing both Thanks for an honest review on everyday stuff.

    6:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Julie, My pleasure!

  • I adore my steam mop quite disproportionately. I use it with Method wood floor cleaning – spray ahead of me and follow with the steam mop. Perfect when you have pets

    6:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    @amanda, Ah that’s how I use the glass cleaner but I bet the wood floor cleaner would be better;). It is wonderful how we can feel affection for exceptional functional design in very mundane products.

  • I wonder if your Mr. Pot would be large enough to cook artichokes? My mother used to cook them in a pressure cooker in a fraction of the time it takes to steam mine in a regular pot. And I adore pea soup, will have to give your recipe a try!

    We have gone through SO many (often expensive) vacuums over the years; now I just use a little rechargeable Bissell pet hair vac. Easy, light, and actually works better on our hardwood floors than the big expensive ones.

    6:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, Yes! My stepmother was just telling me she cooked artichokes in them so I am going to try.

  • Oh I must look for a steam mop here in Aix – I do hate just what you describe when cleaning our 300 plus year old terracotta tile floors. Thanks for your “commercial”!

    6:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Anne, You are so welcome. I would imagine that France has discovered the steam mop:).

  • Wait, you can use the steam mop on wood floors??! Which kinds of wood floors? We’ve always had dinky kitchens (the smallest had a floor under 10 square feet), so hand-washing them was the way to go as long as knees tolerated it, but a steam mop might be excellent if it could also be used on the wood floors without them curling up and dying.

    And beautiful rose!

    6:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @KC, I have hardwood floors finished 20 years ago with polyurethane I guess, and it works just fine! Two words of caution when using your steam mop on wood floors, 1. Use the lowest setting 2. Never ever leave the mop steam side down in one place for more than a couple of seconds. Gotta keep moving. But if you do, I’ve seen no damage except that one spot where I let the mop stand for a couple of minutes when I answered the phone…